Tauranga man Ken Evans' offer to take the city council administration building off its hands for $10 is being rebuffed by councillors.
Chair of the city transformation committee Larry Baldock says if Ken had made his offer last year, he would possibly have gotten a hearing.
But making it at the last minute while tenders are being called for the building's demolition, is not going to happen.
Larry's replying to Ken's letter to the Mayor and councillors offering to repair it and lease it out as office space on behalf of a citizens trust.
“There's been extensive examination of it, not only the official reports but others with experience in the industry considering it's not worth replacing,” says Larry.
“Ken can't come along at this late stage with weird and wonderful ideas about something and expect council to stop. We are trying to transform the city and that building is not part of the transformation.
“There's nothing attractive about it. We have got tenders out now for its demolition.”
Ken is proposing that instead of paying for its demolition, the council could instead sell it for$10 to a group of citizens - who will see it independently inspected, repaired and leased out as office space.
They will lease the land off council and profits from renting the office space will be used by the trust to fund projects about the city.
His understanding of the public reports are that the building was soundly constructed, it would not fall down in an earthquake and people could get out safely.
Ken says the report also said no current earthquake strengthening is required of it in its present condition.
“So the building is on a site which is subject to liquefaction,” says Ken. “That whole area of flat land there used to be a swamp. That is an issue we would face if and when we had to.
“My approach is what's wrong with the building at the moment. Why isn't it still occupied by the council staff?
“Council staff came up with this wonderful thing, about toxic mould. I can find mould in my house and I'm sure I can find mould in your house. It's just a fact of life that it happens.
“But for the councillors to all fall over themselves and say, ‘Oh my goodness, we have to let the staff go because their health is threatened'.
There was one staff member affected and the councillors were not able to see the doctor's report on the person because of privacy issues.
“So the council allowed this to happen without any real evidence at all. It's just quite amazing what has happened here. This is the biggest con job that the council has ever accepted.”
The building report says window rubbers, window catches and silicone around a couple of holes. The sort of thing a home owner would have repaired without too much cost, says Ken.
“I think what the staff have cunningly done is said ‘if we want to bring the building up to the top seismic specifications, it's going to cost millions'. The report says it is perfectly useable as it is.”
When councillors checked the building for themselves there was no mould in sight, says Ken. It had all been cleaned up and the building was fine.
Fumigate it, fix the windows, paint it and it would be operative, says Ken.
“Instead we are going to knock down this building that's worth millions and create an open grass space for people to walk around. Then we are going to build a new palace up by Baycourt. To what end?
The amalgamation of Tauranga, the Western Bay and regional councils is in the offing. It will be imposed on them after the election, potentially. They have done it in Auckland. We are certainly over governed.”
And when the three councils do look for a common base, it will be at Barkes Corner, which will be the centre of the city, says Ken.
“So what are these guys doing knocking down a perfectly good building to build themselves a flash palace which they think will bring crowds of people into Tauranga?”